Experts share the best ways to declutter your home ahead of a big house move

declutter when moving
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Moving house can feel like one long checklist of tasks to do, whether it's changing addresses, or switching over utility bills. As well as organising your 'life admin', one task which home-movers should get to grips with to ensure a smooth move, is to declutter ahead of time.

After all, it’s a great opportunity for a clean slate, and there’s no better time to declutter your home than when you’re sorting through items in order to pack them anyway.

But as anyone who has recently moved will tell you, organising a house move in itself is stressful — let alone throwing a decluttering mission into the mix too. So how can you use the opportunity to declutter when moving, without becoming overwhelmed? To find out, we spoke to decluttering and organising experts who were happy to share their top tips on how to properly declutter before moving home.

Start as soon as possible

The biggest tip from the experts for a declutter when moving is to get started early. Decluttering expert and APDO (Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers) member Gillian Gudgeon, explains: "We usually own way more than we realise, so the number one rule would be to start as soon as you make the decision to move."

This way, you’ll give yourself enough time to declutter slowly but surely, without the stress of rushing.

Not only that, but starting early will avoid the expense that comes with moving possessions you don’t want anymore. "It is pointless packing up things you don’t use, or no longer need, and paying a removal company to move them," says Gillian. "So it makes sense to go through every last possession – and that takes time."

declutter when moving
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Take videos of your new property

Knowing the specific layout of your new home, and how much storage space you’ll have, is key to a thorough declutter ahead of a move, professional organiser Vicky Silverthorn, of You Need A Vicky, explains. As such, she advises taking as many videos of your new home as possible, to allow you to properly analyse its storage capacities before moving.

"You can’t have enough videos of that space — every wall, corner and cupboard," she says. "It can be very hard to remember the storage from your first look at a property – and if you have it on video, you can check."

From there, you can understand how much you might need to declutter, in order for your items to properly fit the new space. Photographs and measurements are also extremely useful to have to hand.

Finish up opened items

One easy way to declutter before moving is to make an effort to use up any opened items — which will allow you to easily get rid of the resulting empty containers.

Professional organiser Sue Spencer, founder of A Life More Organised, says: "Use the last few weeks in your current home to work your way through the freezer and kitchen cupboards. Check to see whether there’s anything out of date, or anything no longer needed."

"The same goes for cleaning products and toiletries," adds Gillian. "Now is the time to start running down that supply of shower gels and hand creams."

declutter when moving
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Take it area by area

Vicky advises tackling only small areas of your home at a time, to make the decluttering process less overwhelming. She advises: "Start with the room that has bothered you the most; the room with the most ‘stuff’ in it.

"Then, focus only on one area, instead of the room (or house) as a whole. Just do that one cupboard for that day, or that shelf, or under the bed. And then stop – finish on a high."

You could also start with the room with the least clutter in, or one which you use the least, so you could start to box up items you want to take with you, and use this room as storage ahead of moving day itself.

Another way to break the job down into manageable chunks is to declutter small areas as and when you have pockets of time, organising expert Laura Price, founder of The Home Organisation says. "Declutter the junk drawer as you’re waiting for the pasta to boil, rifle through the medicine cabinet as you’re brushing your teeth - you don’t need to tackle everything at once," she explained.

Sort through sentimental items

The moving process can be fraught with emotion, and the same is often true of decluttering, especially if it involves getting rid of items seen as sentimental.

However, Vicky has a handy way of reframing the situation. "What we often do is label something as sentimental, when really, we have just owned it for a long time. So I would encourage people to differentiate between the two."

Take that old blanket in your cupboard — does it really have any meaning attached, or has it just lived in your home without much thought for years?

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Get the whole family involved

If you live with other members of your family, a declutter before moving isn’t something you need to tackle alone.

In fact, Gillian advises getting everyone to declutter their own separate sections of your property. "For example, encourage your children to help with their rooms,” she said. “Get them to visualise their shiny new bedrooms, and whether their younger toys and games will really have a place there."

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Consider how difficult replacement will be

Another helpful consideration if you’re struggling to part with something when moving, is to think about how easy it would be to find another item like it, if needed.

Laura says: "A general rule I have is, if it would take you less than 20 minutes and less than £20 to replace, it’s not worth agonising over. 99% of the time you won’t spare it another thought."

Don’t pressure yourself into sorting everything

Forcing yourself to get rid of items ahead of a big move can be tricky – especially if you are torn over whether you’ll use it in your new property or not. So, remove that pressure. "If you really feel like it’s hurting you to get rid of something before you move, absolutely take it with you,” Vicky says.

In fact, unpacking your items in a new place may provide a renewed clarity over whether it makes sense to keep them or not.

Rehome the items you no longer need

Whether most of your unwanted items are from your decluttered kitchen, or from a newly decluttered wardrobe, your options for where to take them next will generally include donating items to charity, reselling them, repurposing them, or taking them to community recycling centres.

"Local charity shops will accept items like bras, unopened make-up and children’s shoes in good, saleable condition, but may have restrictions around electrical equipment," Laura advises. "Clothes and fabrics that aren’t in good condition can also be recycled - charity shops or recycling centres will often accept these."

Unopened food can go to food banks, and experts recommend charities like Furnishing Futures for furniture, The British Heart Foundation for homeware, furniture and electric items, and iCollect for clothes that can be picked up from your home.

Selling on outlets like Vinted, eBay, or Depop is also a great option, but experts suggest leaving this job until after you’ve moved. "Before moving is not the time to be trying to sell possessions, as moving is stressful enough without that added admin," says Gillian.

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